Scott Air Force Base News

Vigil Run honors Vietnam Vet, POW/MIAs

Roger “Red” Darden, a Vietnam War Veteran, stands up during the opening ceremony for the Air Force Sergeant’s Association 9th Annual Veteran’s Vigil Run on Nov. 2 at the James Gym Track at Scott Air Force Base. Darden was the honoree for the vigil run, while fellow Vietnam War Veteran Jack Poltras also attended the event. During the war in 1968, Darden and his unit were on a 42-day search and destroy mission upon which they were approaching Can Tho Airfield in South Vietnam, which was under attack. Darden noticed a dredge pipe in which the Viet Cong were entering from. After making it to the end of the pipe he noticed two men lying in a ditch—one of those men was Poltras. Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Cossaboom
Roger “Red” Darden, a Vietnam War Veteran, stands up during the opening ceremony for the Air Force Sergeant’s Association 9th Annual Veteran’s Vigil Run on Nov. 2 at the James Gym Track at Scott Air Force Base. Darden was the honoree for the vigil run, while fellow Vietnam War Veteran Jack Poltras also attended the event. During the war in 1968, Darden and his unit were on a 42-day search and destroy mission upon which they were approaching Can Tho Airfield in South Vietnam, which was under attack. Darden noticed a dredge pipe in which the Viet Cong were entering from. After making it to the end of the pipe he noticed two men lying in a ditch—one of those men was Poltras. Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Cossaboom

The Air Force Sergeant’s Association hosted their 9th Annual Veteran’s Vigil Run at the James Gym Track Nov. 2 -3, honoring Vietnam Veteran Roger “Red” Darden.

Darden was deployed in 1968 to Can Tho, South Vietnam with the 244th Delta Hawk Aviation Company. On Jan. 14, Darden and his unit had been on a 42-day search and destroy mission when they were approaching Can Tho Airfield, which was under attack.

Being free takes dedication, commitment and sacrifice. We are here to thank them for their service and let them know we will never forget. Thank you to all who came out to participate and who volunteered to make this a showcase event.

Leon Calloway, 375th Air Mobility Wing command chief

His unit approached the gully and noticed a dredge pipe that the Viet Cong were entering through. When he and his unit made it to the end of the pipe, he noticed two men lying in a ditch. After hearing groans, Darden located a man who was severely injured and carried him to safety.

In addition to honoring Darden, the 24-hour run also signified the “never ending support” for those who were Prisoners of War or are those still Missing in Action.

“It is important to honor these veterans because not every POW or MIA makes it home, and it reinforces our code of conduct,” said Staff Sgt. Darrel Johnson, 375th Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School instructor.

A lighting of the vigil candle signaled the commencement of the event wherein groups ran or walked in 30-minute increments around the base track. A total of 290 runners completed 325 miles over the 24-hour span. Over 40 volunteers teamed to work shifts throughout the event to ensure the safety of the participants, while the USO provided food and beverages during the entire event.

“For these 24 hours, we kept the watch ... and we paused to honor all veterans past and present and to those who bear the status of POW/MIA,” said Senior Airman Xavier McGruder, 436th Supply Chain Operations Squadron.

It is important to honor these veterans because not every POW or MIA makes it home, and it reinforces our code of conduct.

Staff Sgt. Darrel Johnson, 375th Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School instructor

For 375th Air Mobility Wing Command Chief Leon Calloway, the event is all about service members and their families remembering what it means to be free.

“Being free takes dedication, commitment and sacrifice. We are here to thank them for their service and let them know we will never forget. Thank you to all who came out to participate and who volunteered to make this a showcase event,” Calloway said.

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